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Zachary Maiorana

English and Linguistics; Internship

What were your responsibilities?
I supported CorpComm’s consultant team with their various areas of work. This included strategizing for the company’s external and internal communications operations.  I also assisted with many projects owned by members of the staff.  This included writing stories for the company’s internal blog, writing posts for the social media network, and providing photographic and videographic collateral.  These regular tasks were in addition to other side duties, including responding to media inquiries, responding to customer comments on social media, providing creative direction to advertising campaigns, writing reports on media coverage and advertising effectiveness, and writing letters and talking points for employees and company leaders.

How did your major program and your time at Ohio State prepare you for this internship?
At first glance, my major program has little direct correlation to my job. I’m not a communication major, I’m an English and linguistics major. I study what I study because it interests me and because I like to learn about languages and literature more than I am interested in communication classes. At the same time, my classes have taught me editorial and professional skills that I have put to use in my internship.  When I’m writing, I’m using the rhetorical and critical thinking assets at AEP Ohio that I have gained in my academic life, while continuing to learn what I am most excited about.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?
In the future, I’ll be able to use my experience working for the corporate communications team at a Fortune 200 company to know how to strategize for a major communications vehicle.  I’m happy that I have been working with team members who have decades of experience each, and who know how to put themselves in customers’ and employees’ shoes to design effective messaging.  In addition, I was given the opportunity to interact with members of other work groups in the company, including meetings with the president and COO as well as the vice presidents of finance, regulatory, distribution, human resources, customer service, safety and communications groups from elsewhere in the company.  By connecting with people from multiple areas in the company, I have been benefited by a network of mentors and gained connections throughout American Electric Power.

What was your favorite part of the internship?
I enjoyed meeting interesting people throughout my internship.  Whether they’re executives or line mechanics, most of the people in the company have been friendly and great to know.  Within my first month on the job, I was able to attend a commercial shoot at the company’s transmission data center in New Albany, where I crossed through two security checkpoints, walked on an actual drawbridge over an actual moat, and was followed around by security personnel no matter where I went within the complex.  I briefly watched Nick Akins, the corporate CEO, speak at a conference, and went on a business trip to Indiana with staff from the AEP Transmission community affairs department.  Some of my favorite parts of the internship have simply been meeting fun and interesting people.  I interviewed a right-of-way agent for a story, and we talked and ate amazing pancakes in a diner in Logan, Ohio.  For another story, I met a member of the forestry department in Portsmouth, Ohio.  He drove me around while we talked about our jobs and lives.  He showed me a helicopter with a chainsaw dangling underneath it used to trim hard-to-reach branches along power lines.  I think most companies wouldn’t give me as many opportunities to go out and meet great people, and for that I’m very thankful.

How did you find out about this internship?
I was sent an email by my Arts and Sciences advisor about humanities internships. This was also a program promoted by JobReady Ohio, an organization which has granted me a scholarship for each semester I have spent with AEP Ohio.

What advice would you give students who are considering an internship?
I would suggest starting early.  If you just bite the bullet and take the time to create a well-written resume in freshman year and apply indiscriminately, you can get a job. Even if it isn’t paid, it adds to your resume and gives you the means to obtain a well-paying job later on.  I think internships are essential by providing professional experience as a supplement to your academic life and student organizations.  I would also advise students who are waiting for responses from potential employers to be more assertive than they think they should be.  If you’re waiting for a call back, call them.  If they’re being unresponsive, keep sending emails.  As an intern, you’re at the very bottom of the company, so—and don’t take it personally—people will forget about you.  The more you bother them, the more interest you show and the more prominent you’ll be on their radar.  It can be scary to keep sending emails and calling, but you really have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is they don’t respond.